Looking to Join UM::Autonomy?

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Join our mailing list and we'll let you know when our next meeting is! We'll also offer one-on-one meetings with teams you're interested in.

UM::Autonomy is an award-winning student project team from the University of Michigan. Each year we build an autonomous boat to participate in the RoboNation RoboBoat competition. The boat is completely designed and programmed by students and must complete a wide range of challenges that are designed to test its autonomous abilities. We aim to further the study of autonomous robotics at the University of Michigan by providing students with hands-on multidisciplinary design experience in artificial intelligence, image processing, navigation, naval architecture, and mechanical design. Each year we strive to push the physical and conceptual bounds of our autonomous vehicle.

The Competition

The RoboBoat competition is an international competition where students design, build, and compete with self-driving robotic boats, in a series of tests aimed at challenging teams through a variety autonomous (self-driving) tasks. In 2023, we were joined by 22 other teams from 4 continents. UM::Autonomy placed 6th overall, and 3rd among American Universities.

The Boat

Rising from the ashes of defeat and disorder following the pandemic, UM::Autonomy's 2023 boat, the Phoenix, soared to competition with renewed pride, a greater sense of togetherness, and a singular focus: to compete hard while having fun. Made entirely out of carbon fiber to reduce weight, the boat features two large thrusters for speed and a Ryzen 5600X CPU to make autonomous decisions.

After a hard-fought competition the previous year, the team chose to focus on four principles for this year: decoupling, reliability, maintainability, and performance. Not only was the AI pipeline decoupled and tested separately, but nearly all major components of the boat could be separated, making it extremely modular and maintainable. It was the first year that the team tested in the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory, and did so for over 100 hours. In addition, it was the first year that the boat was made out of carbon fiber from scratch—from the painstaking mold making, preparation, and vacuum resin infusion—in order to produce a boat that weighed less than 60 pounds while still delivering impeccable results.

The Team

UM::Autonomy has around 60 members across many different majors, including Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Robotics, Naval Architecture, Art & Design, and Business. We are organized into several teams: Artificial Intelligence, Electrical, Mechanical, Advanced Capabilities, and Business. The Artificial Intelligence team is broken up into distinct subteams, which are Navigation & Controls, Task Planning, and Computer Vision.

Interested in joining?

Each year we look for motivated, talented individuals looking to make a splash in the world of autonomous vehicles. UMA has no selection process or time commitment requirements. This year, we have bite-sized projects for new members to onboard more smoothly and get a glimpse on the type of work we do. If our team and our opportunities float your boat, sign up for our mailing list, and we'll provide you with more information about our meetings! If you have any more questions, don't be afraid to reach out to us at umautonomy@umich.edu!

Join Our Mailing List to Learn More

Join our mailing list and we'll let you know when our next meeting is! We'll also offer one-on-one meetings with teams you're interested in.